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Teacher strike: Employer estimates cost of benefit demands

Teachers march in Chilliwack Monday, declared by the union as a
Teachers march in Chilliwack Monday, declared by the union as a 'study session' as they embarked on a full-scale strike.
— image credit: Jenna Hauck/Black Press

The bargaining agency for B.C.'s 60 school districts has put a price tag on what its chief negotiator called "a truckload of benefit provisions" sought by the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

The cost estimate was released by the B.C. Public School Employers' Association after negotiations broke down Monday and the BCTF proceeded with a full-scale strike that could continue to the end of the school year.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said talks were expected to resume Tuesday.

BCPSEA calculates that with increased class preparation time and other benefits, the latest offer from the BCTF adds up to a 12.5% increase in total compensation over the five-year term proposed by the union.

BCPSEA has proposed a 7% pay increase over six years, plus a $1,200 signing bonus for an agreement ratified by the end of the year. The BCTF countered last week with a proposed $5,000 bonus, to make up for a year the union has worked under an expired contract.

BCPSEA chief negotiator Peter Cameron said the union has disagreed with some of the calculations, but has not provided its own costing, and after weekend negotiations he could no longer determine which of them are still on the table.

BCPSEA calculates the added costs of union's proposals for year five as follows:

• Wages and benefits: $211.1 million

• Dropping the bottom two teacher wage classifications: $16.9 million

• Expanded preparation time, elementary grades: $86.2 million

• Expanded preparation time, secondary grades: $5.9 million

• Pregnancy and parental leave: $22.1 million

• Extended health and dental benefits: $11 million

• Substitute teacher pay increase: $8.8 million

BCPSEA has also calculated the cost of the union's position on class size and composition at $1.67 billion. That dispute has been the subject of a series of court actions and the B.C. Court of Appeal is expected to rule on it in the fall.

 

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